Pope Francis had a full schedule over the weekend. On Saturday alone, he held seven official meetings. One of them was with the President of Iraq.
The President and the Pope spoke for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, the traditional presentation of gifts took place. The Iraqi President gave the Pope a custom-made habit as well as a gold reproduction of the Ziggurat of Ur—a staple historical and religious monument of Iraq. It was a symbolic gift, since Francis is the first ever Pope to go to Iraq and, specifically, to visit Ur, the place where Abraham left for Canaan.
The two talked about this trip. The Iraqi President thanked the Pope for his visit to the country in 2021 and noted, according to a statement, that the trip symbolized "peaceful coexistence between religions," something the Pope has continued to call for publicly after returning from Iraq.
I follow with concern the violent events that have taken place in Baghdad in recent days. We implore God in prayer to give peace to the people of Iraq. Last year, I had the joy of visiting. I felt the near and great desire for normalcy and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities there.
The President's visit to the Pope comes at a time when the relationship between the country and the Church is not at its best.
In 2013, Cardinal Sako was appointed Patriarchate of Iraq. But last July, the President revoked a decree that recognized the cardinal as head of the Catholic Church in the country.
Cardinal Sako made public a statement where he described the situation as “unjust” and announced his decision to “withdraw from the Patriarchate in Baghdad and go to a monastery in Kurdistan.”